How To Create An Effective Content Marketing Strategy For 2016
How do you continuously push out fresh content that engages your target audience? Columnist Steve Olenski discusses some ways to get your content marketing strategy on the right path.
Content marketing is an intimidating, but necessary, part of raising brand awareness now.
It’s easy to get lost in the whirlwind of SEO elements, content guidelines, audience interests and promotional strategies. But at the heart of it, content marketing has one simple central tenet: Deliver fresh, unique and informative content that taps into the interests of your target audience.
How you go about that can vary, and how you continue your content marketing efforts will change as you get to know more about your audience.
However, as with anything that seems insurmountable, providing great content to support your brand is a step-by-step process. For information on how to create your best content marketing strategy, read on.
Get To Know Your Audience
Not having a good grasp of your audience while trying to serve them streams of content is like someone setting up on a busy street corner and yelling nonsense into the wind — perhaps one or two people may stop to inquire, but for the most part, crowds of people will pass by without a second thought.
It’s also never been more easy to gain access to your target market. You can study the efforts of your competitors or other brands that share your market and gain insights from their best-performing posts; you can look to your own best-performing social posts to see what kind of tone or content grabs your followers’ attention.
You should take a look at your audience directly, either with surveys or by tracking traffic reports from Google Analytics. When you know who your target audience is, where they hang out, what content they gravitate to and their shopping and browsing habits, your work becomes much easier than simply shouting at the wind.
Write Down A Mission Statement And Goals You Wish To Accomplish With Your Content
Before you start brainstorming ideas, it’s a wise idea to sit down and really think about the aims of your content beyond the SEO benefits. This will help give you an anchor to all of your future assignments.
A simple mission statement communicates your objective in its simplest terms. For example: “Brand X seeks to provide fun, healthy and nutritional advice and recipes for busy parents on the go to help improve their family’s eating habits in a healthy, sustainable way.”
Within this statement, you can isolate your target audience (parents on the go), content form (in recipes and time-saving healthy eating tips), and main objective (to improve their family’s eating habits in a healthy, sustainable way).
Beyond the mission statement, you’ll want to establish a clear breakdown of the type of content that you’ll be providing. Based on the earlier example, this breakdown could look like:
- 40 percent recipes and advice, and otherwise interesting content to foster cultural engagement
- 20 percent content curation from other sources
- 20 percent brand promotion, including press mentions
- 10 percent product-related ideas
- 10 percent promoting company culture with intent to recruit new talent and company updates
Google Alerts is a godsend to the content curator, especially as creating and commissioning content requires a great deal of research.
Beyond that, staying up-to-date on popular news, videos and viral internet items related to your industry helps you source interesting content to republish on your blog.
Draft Ideas; Tons And Tons Of Ideas
Using your mission statement, content breakdown and the information you’ve already gleaned about your target audience, you will be able to gather your team and come up with tons and tons of ideas.
“These ideas can just be in the form of headlines, which you can optimize with appropriate titles,” entrepreneur Syed Balkhi told me. “I like to write 20-30 evergreen titles that will rank well over time. They should reflect the style and tone of your target audience: If you’re catering to a market of entrepreneurs and creative professionals, they should be more informative, with an approachable yet cordial tone. If your website falls under ‘men’s interest,’ you’ll want to communicate casually, and with humor.”
What is important to note is that your content efforts shouldn’t be entirely dedicated to self-promotion — if all your posts are ads about your product, then you’ll lose visitors quickly. Instead, you’ll want to create content that is helpful and informative for your audience.
Pick Your Best Ideas And Figure Out The Best Medium For Them
Not all content ideas play the same way. You can start to explore various media for communicating your best ideas — a straight blog post will certainly do for many of your posts, but some might be better suited to an infographic or a video.
This will also help you capture more readers, enhance your brand identity and engage readers who are viewing your site on different platforms.
Draw Up An Editorial Calendar And Commission Your Team With Assignments
When you have an idea of how your content will be shaped, it’s a good time to draw up an editorial calendar, which includes social media posts and audit dates, to keep you on track for content.
How often you post will be decided by your resources — you may be able to publish three blog posts a week or three a day, depending on your team and budget — but it’s important to remain consistent. When you have a concrete plan of your content stream, you may begin to commission your articles and blog posts.
Publish, Promote And Track Your Posts
When it comes to publishing content, quality comes first above all — and yet there’s still much else to consider. Posts should ideally be useful and informative for your target audience, written with a tone that best fits the reader and carefully edited for spelling and grammar.
You may also decide to include SEO elements in each post to help improve your brand’s Google ranking. As you publish and promote your posts, you’ll want to keep a keen eye on the post analytics to help guide your later posts; if a particular subject is demonstrably more popular than others, then try to emulate that effect with something similar.
If you see your bounce rate rising (that is, visitors stopping in to read a post and then leaving your site), then add more elements on the page itself to help direct readers to more posts in which they may be interested. If you’re getting a significant bump in referral traffic from another website or blog, then see if you can interact with them on a deeper level to increase that support.
By allowing your analytics to guide your next posts, you can maximize the potential of your site reach.